The continued promotion of Kenya’s tourism sector will play an integral role in the industry’s growth, leading pan-African bookings agency, Jumia Travel has said.
The travel agency, which provides online hotel reservations across the African continent, stated that in 2017, Kenya’s tourism sector directly contributed Ksh294.6 billion ($2.9 billion) to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP), This represented approximately 3.7% of Kenya’s GDP at the time.
By the end of 2018, the contribution is expected to rise by 5.2% to Ksh310.1 billion ($3.1 billion) and to Ksh515 billion ($5.1 billion) by 2028.
Jumia Travel noted that Kenya’s tourism industry has undergone a number of challenges in recent years, including uncertainty surrounding the political landscape in 2017.
“Yet, its resilient performance has been impactfully felt on the Kenyan economy,” said Jumia Travel’s Communications Head, Josephine Wawira.
As such, Jumia Travel has called for increased investment in the promotion of Kenya’s tourism industry. The country’s government has been keen to recognize its potential and is currently working with public and private sector stakeholders to keep the industry thriving.
According to a hospitality report by Jumia Travel, Kenya earned $1.2 billion from tourism expenditures last year, up from approximately $989 million in 2016, a 20% increase. This came as international arrivals to Kenya reached 1.4 million as compared to 1.3 million the previous year.
Some of the economic drivers that highly contributed to the stability included enhanced security in the country, infrastructural developments like the country’s famous Standard Gauge Railway, a steady macroeconomic environment, improved budgetary allocations by the government, and increased air connectivity within Africa.
Serena Hotels’ Regional Sales and Marketing Director Rosemary Mugambi, has since applauded the government’s strides in enhancing the industry by providing more diverse tourism products.
Kenya’s core tourism resources are beach and safari products. It can be noted from the country’s National Tourism Blueprint, that the government has identified existing gaps and is now set to do much more in identifying new opportunities that should allow the opening of a wider scale of diverse tourism products, addressing needs within existing products and developing new ones
Mugambi also thanked the government for its tourism marketing strategies. Recently, countries like Rwanda, and traditionally South Africa have noticeably upped their tourism marketing strategies to maintain and increase market share in the international tourism market.
Whilst Kenya’s reputation as a top African tourist destination has always managed to place the country as a leader in the industry, it is imperative that marketing campaigns for destination Kenya be more innovative to capture the imagination of travelers across different segments; from the niche market to the more budget conscious. Adequate marketing funds also need to be availed consistently.
Mugambi thanked the State for its efforts in the Promotion of domestic tourism. Domestic tourism has taken off exponentially in the last few years, generating 62% of direct travel and tourism GDP in 2017 as foreign spending contributed 38% according to the hospitality report.
“The unified brand of ‘Tembea Kenya’ (Explore Kenya) through the Kenya Tourism Board has certainly helped build awareness especially within the counties – a good initiative that must continue to receive the necessary support,” Wawira explained.
Finally, Mugambi thanked Kenya’s government for its protection of tourism resources.
“The conservation of valuable resources like wildlife is paramount. It is commendable that the elephant population in areas like the Tsavo National Park has increased significantly following efforts to contain poaching and management of human-wildlife conflict by the Kenya Wildlife Service,” stated Wawira.
She said, however, the unfortunate death of 11 rhinos less than a week ago during a translocation exercise is an example of occurrences that hurt the sector and which should not happen in future.
Wawira said that Kenya’s government must ultimately play the role of ensuring that the right policies and regulations are in place and adhered to and provides the enabling environment.
“The industry must also play by the right rules and procedures…to ensure Kenya maintains and grows its slice of the cake in the market. It is all about partnerships,” she concluded.